Written by Josh Brewer, August 18th, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer
Stephen King’s Heavy Hitters
I know. Another Stephen King article, so original. Don’t worry, this puppy is a little different. The world at large seems pretty happy to leave King as a genre writer. After all, his best known work exists almost exclusively in the horror genre. King’s name reads synonymous with horror stories and flicks the world over.
But today, we’re focusing on a few others. Films that don’t elicit the reaction of horror or terror, but rather the work that defines King outside of the genre that made him famous. King has never limited himself to genre; he writes stories. And sometimes, those stories are amazing and turned into amazing films. Here, you’ll find my picks for Stephen King’s Heavy Hitters: his three best non-horror flicks.
Stand by Me
Directed by Rob Reiner
Based on The Body by Stephen King
Starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell
The Story: Four boys set off to find a dead body and, in the process, begin the process of becoming men.
The Lowdown: The ultimate coming of age film, Stand by Me takes King’s source material and lifts it to a higher plan. The film creates a group of friends so immediately realistic that it seems impossible that they didn’t actually exist. As a conversation about children becoming adults over a Labor Day weekend, Stand by Me is nearly flawless.
That says nothing about the work of Reiner, who masterfully manages to broaden King’s story and apply it to a wider audience. Often, the directors of King’s work hope that he’ll have done all of the heavy lifting for them, meaning that the final film feels flat and rushed, like a shot by shot remake of a better flick. Reiner doesn’t risk it, providing a stellar cast with wonderful support.
The Green Mile
Directed by Frank Darabont
Based on the serial novel of the same name by Stephen King
Starring: Tom Hanks, David Morse, Michael Clarke Duncan, Bonnie Hunt
The Story: The head guard of a death row comes to realize that one of his prisoners is innocent. What’s more, the prisoner can heal the sick.
The Lowdown: It’s easy to write The Green Mile off as just another period prison film from Stephen King. To do so, however, would be a major flaw. The Green Mile manages to convey the true horrors of a system set to work against you, and the effect of that on the best and worst of us. Hanks is, as always, a highlight; but it’s Duncan who does the heavy lifting, providing one of the great performances in a King film.
Maybe a little too ambitious, The Green Mile’s only major failing point is it’s inflated run time, which seems a little aggressive near the third fourth. It’s worth checking out if, for no other reason, to watch Hanks and Duncan rock. Luckily, you’ll get so much more out of the film. This is truly one of Stephen King’s Heavy Hitters
The Shawshank Redemption
Directed by Frank Darabont
Based on Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown
The Story: Framed for murder, Andy Dufresne eventually builds a life in the Shawshank prison and works for his eventual escape.
The Lowdown: A film so good that the thought Stephen King was involved seems ludicrous, The Shawshank Redemption stands as one of the best films ever. And I don’t mean best King film, which it is, but rather it is listed as arguably the best film ever made. Shawshank competes with The Godfather and Citizen Kane.
A patient story which comes to life over time, the film provides one of the truly moving cinematic experiences. The cast, direction, script, and story are flawless and allow the story to resonate as a reflection on devotion, capacity, and sorrow. The evolution of both of the main characters, a flawless Robbins and Freeman, would be a major selling point. But here it’s part of a cinematic symphony that stands heads and shoulders above most of the rest of the film world.
And there you have it! A trio of fantastic Stephen King’s Heavy Hitters. Check ’em out!